For the past four years, we have celebrated Hanukkah, the Jewish holiday also known as the festival of lights. Anyway, we celebrate one day of this eight day festival. This year, the holiday commenced on the evening of December 8 and ends the evening of December 16.
What is Hanukkah? The holiday dates back to a time when the land of Israel was controlled by the Greco-Syrian Empire. After the Israelites defeated the much larger Greco-Syrian army, following an uprising related to desecration of the temple in Jerusalem, the Jews determined to cleanse the temple. To cleanse the temple, consecrated oil was needed to light a great menorah, or candelabrum. However, the Jews found only enough oil to last barely a day. It would take eight days to prepare new holy oil. Nevertheless, they lit the menorah with the oil available, and it lasted the full eight days, a miracle.
This year, we borrowed a menorah from a friend and lit two candles, using the shammas, or middle candle, which is used to light the other candles. We held our Hanukkah feast on the second day of the holiday, and a candle is lit for each day, until eight candles fill the menorah, plus the shammas in the middle.
This year we also found a great radio station to put us in the proper frame of mind—Radio Hanukkah on Sirius XM Radio.
What is our Hanukkah tradition? Besides reading a longer version of the Hanukkah story, we mainly celebrate with food, including hummus and pita bread, cheese, matzo ball soup, latkes with baked apples on top, beef brisket, noodle kugel, and, for the bold, brussel sprouts.
The group of friends we invited over enjoyed the Hanukkah celebration, including a couple who joined us for the first time. We sent everyone away with some baked goods, as daily gifts are a Hanukkah tradition.
While we are Gentiles, we recognize that the Jews have been and always will be His chosen people. We also acknowledge that our God is one and the same.